Personal Journeys


February 16, 2003|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Mexican storm opens way to Hawaii

By Lisa M. Rayo


Oahu will forever be a memorable place for my husband and me not only because of its natural beauty but also because of the unexpected way we ended up there.

We wanted to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary in a special way. A friend offered to let us stay for a week at his condominium in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Great. The catch was, we have two children and there was no one to watch them for a week.

After much effort, we arranged for our family to fly to California, where my mother would watch the children. I flew first with our daughter, and my husband and son were to meet us a week later, at which point my husband and I would leave for Mexico. Not a simple plan, but it seemed workable.

The night before we were to leave for Mexico, we learned that Hurricane Kenna was heading straight for Puerto Vallarta. How could this be? One of the things we checked before planning our trip was that Puerto Vallarta usually does not suffer from hurricanes because of its protected location. We were now looking at only the second hurricane in some 30 years that would hit the resort area.

Holding out hope that the hurricane might change course, I stayed glued to the TV weather reports. But the hurricane was punctual and on the mark. Our anniversary vacation was in ruins.

Desperate not to waste our opportunity to get away together (especially after flying the kids across the country), we sat down at my cousin's computer and started looking for last-minute travel offers on the Internet. Ironically, most of the trips were to Washing-ton and Baltimore.

Resigned to our fate of no anniversary trip, we thanked my cousin for the use of her computer and were about to leave. But she wanted to check one more thing. She pulled up a travel Web site we had not tried and found an amazing package to Waikiki Beach on Oahu.

Better money was never spent. We loved Oahu from the moment we arrived. Everything was so clean. Everyone was so friendly. From the balcony of our hotel room, we had a beautiful view of Waikiki, Diamond Head crater and the ocean.

The weather was perfect. We hiked to the top of Diamond Head, snorkeled at Hanauma Bay, relaxed on the beach, went to a luau and visited Pearl Harbor. We had an unforgettable anniversary. It was worth all the trouble we went through to find such a beautiful place.

Lisa M. Rayo lives in Laurel.

My Best Shot

The city on the Seine

Gary M. Hymes, Owings Mills

I shot this photo on a brisk April day in Paris while crossing the River Seine. The tower of the Palais de Justice -- circa 1470--- almost hides the very tip of the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cite. The bridge on the right is the Pont Neuf. This is the oldest bridge in Paris, although its name means "new bridge." The first stone of the Pont Neuf was laid in 1578. Steady April showers caused unusually high water, almost appearing to swallow the vehicles on the shoreline.

Readers Recommend

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Barbara and Mort Kesler, Timonium

Imagine walking in the dark for three-quarters of a mile and then arriving at an active -- and glowing -- lava flow. This was our experience during a visit to Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the island of Hawaii. We felt as if we were standing in the middle of a barbecue pit.

Yellowstone National Park

Jody Jacobs,


Of all the places my wife and I have been, including Kenya (my second favorite place), the most amazing place to me has been Yellowstone National Park. People we speak with always want to go to exotic places outside the United States. I think they are missing a most interesting and beautiful place to visit right here.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

* A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you, about the nostalgia a certain place evokes, about the power of a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. (Cash value: $150.)

* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned. Submissions from all categories may be used for Readers Recommend, and upon submission become the property of The Sun.

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